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museu de ciències naturals de Barcelona museu blau Museu Blau a new cultural amenity for the city Museu Blau (Blue Museum), the new premises of the Natural Science Museum of Barcelona. An institution with

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museu de ciències naturals de Barcelona museu blau Museu Blau a new cultural amenity for the city Museu Blau (Blue Museum), the new premises of the Natural Science Museum of Barcelona. An institution with a history going back 132 years. An area of 9,000 m 2, distributed on two floors, dedicated to the natural sciences. The Museum s heritage collection consists of approximately 3,000,000 specimens. The benchmark exhibition «Planet Life» showcases over 4,500 items from the Museum s heritage collection, divided up into seven sections: rocks, minerals, plants, animals, fungi, microbes and algae. The explanatory narrative of each section of The Earth today is arranged using four museographic resources interactive tables, classification panels, display units with collection exhibits and the More in-depth area which are an aid to understanding the natural world. Some of these elements, equipped with cutting-edge interactive and audiovisual technology, afford visitors tools which enable them to choose just how far they wish to delve into each particular subject. Three chill-out areas: an Audio chill-out where one can listen to a 24-hour period of a sound landscape specifically, a Spring day in the Montseny natural park; a Visual Chill-out, where one can immerse oneself in the world of nature, especially that of microscopic beings, accompanied by an impressive soundtrack; and a Reading Chill-out, where the public have access to illustrated books and the latest scientific journals. Since late 2009 over 700 specimens have been restored, 51 new specimens have been naturalised and 24 skeletons have been mounted. The Media library: 180 m 2 given over to the dissemination of the natural sciences. It is opening with 3,500 documents. The Science Nest: an area of discovery for children aged 0-6 years. Facilities: shop, cafeteria and restaurant. Museu Blau a new cultural amenity for the city Museu Blau, the new premises of Barcelona s Natural Science Museum an institution whose history goes back 132 years. An area of 9,000 m2, distributed on two floors, given over to the natural sciences. The benchmark exhibition «Planet Life» showcases more than 4,500 exhibits from the Museum s heritage collection, distributed in seven sections: rocks and minerals, fossils, microbes, algae, plants, fungi and animals. The museum s heritage collection consists of some 3,000,000 items. Since the end of 2009 over 700 specimens have undergone restoration, 51 new exhibits have been naturalised and 24 skeletons have been mounted. The Media library 180 m2 dedicated to the dissemination of the natural sciences is opening with 3,500 documents. The Science Nest: a discovery area for children aged 0-6 years. Services: shop, cafeteria and restaurant. Cover image: Amador Viñolas 2 Contents Introduction... 3 Museu Blau Building and architects... 4 Herzog & de Meuron explain their view of the project... 5 The Forum building and the Natural Science Museum... 5 Architecture and Museography The amenity... 7 The hall, hub of the Museu Blau... 7 Media library, natural sciences for everyone... 8 Science Nest, discovery area for children aged 0 to 6 years... 8 «Planet Life»: benchmark exhibition The Earth today Museographic design of The Earth today The essence of the Museum: its collections The collections in figures Curiosities of the collections Preparation and transfer of the collections exhibited Restoration New materials; their preparation in the Museum Acquisitions Making mounts for the exhibits, for display, packaging and transport History of the Natural Sciences Museum, from the 19 th to the 21 st century MCNB facilities and opening times Practical information Acknowledgements Introduction The Museu Blau, a new cultural amenity for the city The Museu Blau (Blue Museum) opens onto the Forum park and brings the city a modern cultural amenity dedicated to knowledge, leisure and debate on the natural sciences, with the aim of encouraging a respect for nature and an awareness of today s environmental issues. The new amenity is located in the former Forum building, an emblematic work of the last great urban transformation that finally opened up Barcelona to the sea. With this new facility, the Natural Sciences Museum of Barcelona (MCNB) has four premises located in three important areas of the city: in Montjuïc park, the Botanical Garden; in Ciutadella park, the Castell dels Tres Dragons (Three Dragons Castle) Herzog & de Meuron 4 and the Martorell Museum; and now, the new amenity in the Forum park. The Museu Blau occupies 9,000 m2 distributed on two floors with modern installations and facilities for all sectors of the public, structured around an immense, free-access hall which is the start and finish point for all the Museum programmes and services: the benchmark exhibition «Planet Life», the temporary exhibition areas, the Media library, the Science Nest for children aged 0-6 years, the lecture rooms, the conference hall, the workshops, the cafeteria, the restaurant and the shop. Herzog & de Meuron, the architects of the original building, were also responsible for adapting the new Museum premises and for the museographic design of the «Planet Life» exhibition, a journey through the history of life and its evolution in tandem with our planet, and a portrait of the present day. This exhibition is being inaugurated starting with its core, The Earth today, which is the part displaying 4,500 exhibits from the Museum s heritage collection and the one occupying the most space within the exhibition enclosure. This year (2011) will also see the opening of its other two sections: The biography of the Earth and Life laboratories. The core of the exhibition, The Earth today, presents a comprehensive view of nature, encompassing all the natural sciences disciplines, taking an entirely new museographic approach and using the very latest interactive and audiovisual resources. This new amenity has made it possible to display hidden treasures from the collections of an institution backed by 132 years of history and that today holds three million specimens many of which are of great scientific and historical significance in the fields of mineralogy, petrology, palaeontology, zoology and botany. It is an exhibition that centres on the natural heritage of Catalonia and its most immediate environment, the Mediterranean, but that also displays significant material from other regions on the planet. The Museu Blau is a new cultural amenity that gives the city an innovative cultural agenda gratifyingly combining scientific rigour with popular science, recreation with gaining a knowledge of nature, and leisure with a serious look at today s environmental issues. Free access to the Museu Blau from 27 March to 30 June 5 Museu Blau 1. The building and its architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, the Swiss architects who designed the original building constructed in 2004 for the Forum of Cultures, were also responsible for adapting the Museum s new premises and for the museographic design of the benchmark exhibition «Planet Life». Winners of the 2001 Pritzker prize architecture s equivalent of the Nobel prize the Swiss team has undertaken projects of the stature of the restructuring of the Tate Modern in London, the Olympic Stadium in Peking and the Young Museum in San Francisco, to name but a few. Herzog & de Meuron explain their view of the project: The Forum building and the Natural Science Museum Relocating the Natural Science Museum in Barcelona s Forum building marks the start of a new lifecycle for both institutions: a cycle in which each institution will benefit from the space, the agenda and the potential of the other. With its spaciousness, both inside and out, and its references to natural processes and shapes, the architecture of the Forum is particularly appropriate for the new Museum premises. And the Natural Science Museum, by filling the empty spaces with new, intensive public activities, guarantees a vigorous revitalisation of the existing building. Now, the open public area facing the approach from Diagonal Avenue and extending beneath the triangular body of the building is diversified and encouraged to become an integral part of city life. The corner facing the city centre is still the main public access point and is reinforced by the three existing pavilions, which are rearranged to provide group meeting-places and general information points along the access way to the Museum entrance. The second corner, facing towards Diagonal Avenue, is revitalised with lush vegetation outside, and with the pond situated beneath the aquatic patio. And, lastly, the corner facing the sea is given life with a new outdoor picnic area for students and groups, adjacent to the bar that opens on to the plaza. 6 The interior of the raised triangular building, which is like an immense indoor landscape, is structured in patios, creating a space that is most appropriate for natural science exhibitions and for the Museum s growth requirements, as the idea is to expand the display of its extraordinary collection. Architecture and museography The central core of the Museum is the permanent exhibition, consisting of a noteworthy collection of rocks and minerals, animals, microbes, fungi, plants and herbaria, meteorites, scientific drawings, diagrams, fossils and skeletons, sounds and dioramas, collected in Barcelona over a period of many years. The exhibition is presented in two parts: The history of Earth, and The Earth today. Starting in historical order, the narrative theme of the first part which is to open in June 2011 gives a chronological account of Earth s history starting from its origins and continuing up to the present day. This itinerary is organised along a route that meanders, like a canyon, between the existing patios of the Forum building and the new display units, slowly descending the ramps and drawing the visitor into the very heart of the exhibition. All along this route, the exhibits and the multimedia installations recreate the light, views and sounds of different eras. In a penumbral setting and against a rough wall backdrop, each object is captured in its own individual glass case, lit up to emphasise its importance, age, uniqueness and value. The historical route explains the story of Gaia in a way that is simple to understand, thereby giving visitors the key to understanding and appreciating the central exhibition. On entering the second part of the exhibition, The Earth today, visitors suddenly find themselves in the vibrant, diverse world of animals, plants, algae, mushrooms, microbes, minerals and rocks. The collection is arranged in a simple layout of tables and display cases set in straight lines like Barcelona s grid street plan and the ceiling structure. The very latest technology in matters of exhibition and conservation is used, evoking the exhibition methods of the great classic museums of the 19 th century, the period when a number of the exhibits were collected. This part occupies the largest, uppermost area of the main exhibition floor and generates a vast themed field of local and exotic specimens. The simple order and the large number of objects on display bring to mind the wealth and diversity of life on Earth by juxtaposing, one next to another, radically different life forms. Altogether, the linear route of the history of Gaia and the more diffuse sections of The Earth today offer a coherent narrative theme, a fact which is highlighted in a number of different displays Life laboratories which will give a more in-depth view of specific subjects such as systems of scientific classification, behaviour, ecosystems and genetics, among others. These units condense the past and the present, and re-examine history from a more specific perspective. They follow the lines of the existing patios, creating a secondary system of closed units along the 7 open exhibition area which, just like the 17 th -century cabinets of curiosities, create little worlds in which diverse objects and pieces of knowledge are concentrated. The display units are strategically located with the aim of controlling and adjusting the large main area, and serve to improve visitor flow, orientation and overall understanding of the experience. This display layout follows the logic of the existing space while radically transforming it, and gives visitors the freedom to explore their own individual routes, while at the same time conserving the logical sequence of the whole. It also extends as far as the Museum hall, where the main stairway constitutes the central start and finish point for all the public programmes, and includes the shop, restaurant, media library, lecture rooms and conference hall, the temporary exhibitions area and the support and administration areas. The hall stretches down towards the plaza, to connect with the wide, covered public space of the Museu Blau, so visitors bring life to the fast-developing area where Diagonal Avenue meets the sea. 2. The amenity The Museu Blau is a new cultural amenity with modern installations which have made it possible to innovate the museographic discourse and the educational and informative programmes of the Natural Science Museum. In an area of 9,000 m 2 distributed on two floors, the facilities and installations of the Museu Blau are structured around an immense, freely-accessible hall which is the start and finish point of all the Museum programmes: the benchmark exhibition «Planet Life», the areas for temporary exhibitions, the Media library, the Science Nest (for children aged 0 to 6 years), the lecture rooms, the conference hall, the workshops, the offices for nature associations, the cafeteria, the restaurant and the shop, as well as the support and administration areas. This new amenity also offers facilities and installations in the building s covered outdoor area, such as a picnic area, the Mediterranean plants garden and the pond The hall, the hub of the Museu Blau A large stairway takes visitors to the core of the Museum, a grand hall on the first floor, which distributes the public throughout the majority of the installations and facilities and is, at the same time, a leisure area with freely accessible cultural activities for all sectors of the public. As soon as they arrive, visitors can enjoy the audiovisual «Nature Museum», projected on a 14 m 2 screen, which recreates in an entertaining, free and artistic manner, the different collections, premises and activities of Barcelona s Natural Science Museum. This spacious foyer is also host to a schedule of exhibitions that will show art and science in relation to each other and that is opening with «Bestiary» by the artist Perico Pastor and the scientist Xavier Bellés. In this same area, the exhibition «Natural Sciences Institutions and Museums in Catalonia» opens a window on their activities and natural heritage, in 18 linear metres of display showing emblematic items from the collections of each of these institutions. Another display, dedicated to donations as a source of betterment of the Museum s heritage, will be renewed periodically with the latest contributions. This small area is starting its trajectory by exhibiting an international collection of mineralogy, with some rather rare species, that has just been received at the institution. Other tables and display cabinets provide information on the project of the Natural Science Museum of Barcelona, all its premises and the architectonic characteristics of the Museu Blau. 8 From the hall, visitors can go to the ticket offices for tickets to the benchmark exhibition «Planet Life», or attend the activities scheduled in the lecture rooms or the conference hall (seating capacity 150), or they can access the temporary exhibitions area 1,000 m 2 which can be partitioned off for various different displays, as required. They can also go to the shop, the restaurant or other cultural facilities such as the Media library and the Science Nest. The Museu Blau also has facilities on the ground floor, such as the cafeteria accessible from the street or the picnic area, designed to take groups, especially school groups, that are participating in the Museum activities. The Botanical Room will be on this level too, along with the Mediterranean plants garden, of 250 m 2, and the pond with a waterfall, in which the water is automatically recirculated in a closed circuit Media library, the natural sciences for everyone Freely accessible, and separated from the entrance hall by a glass wall, the new media library comprises an area of 180 m 2 given over to the dissemination of all the natural sciences disciplines. With this new amenity, the Museum has made available for the public, aged 7 and over, an extensive digital archive that includes sound- and audiovisual documents, as well as books, on the biodiversity and geodiversity of our planet. The novelty of this new service lies in the fact that, for the first time, users are being given access to the only public database of animal sounds and sound landscapes that exists in Catalonia, the Natura Sonora sounds library at Barcelona s Natural Sciences Museum. The media library is an unpartitioned space that incorporates a viewing area equipped with computers, and a reading area. Users can consult the media library catalogue and borrow a copy of the documents. Large, self-service shelves and a storage area complete this information centre which is starting out with the acquisition of 3,500 documents including books, audiovisuals, maps, interactive games and subscription journals. In addition to the Natura Sonora sounds collection, which comprises 2,000 sound documents representing 80,000 sounds of assorted animals and habitats on our planet, the Museum s media library offers Sounds à la carte, a unique and innovative service. It consists of a computer application that allows access to different sounds by using search criteria such as species, habitat or geographic location. If they wish, users will be able to specifically select and listen to the sound of a hoopoe on summer evenings, the raging of a tropical storm or the birdsong of various nocturnal birds. 9 2.3. Science Nest, an area of discovery for children aged 0 to 6 years The Museu Blau wanted to set aside an area for children aged 0 to 6 years a novel idea when it comes to cultural offerings to do with the natural sciences. The Science Nest, occupying an area of 90 m 2, was designed with the aim of stimulating an interest in nature and developing sensory Mariano Herrera / MCNB and emotional experiences. From now on, our little ones on family visits or school outings will be able to enjoy their very own space with a programme of activities based on the Museum s heritage and the benchmark exhibition «Planet Life». This area is designed for the utmost versatility, to make it truly multifunctional. The ceiling, consisting of a web of steel tubes, serves as a support from which different elements can be hung, setting the stage, as it were. Images can be projected on the walls and floor, and can be accompanied by sound effects to recreate atmospheric phenomena or different habitats on the planet, such as the forest or the plains. The furniture in the Science Nest is adjustable in size, sturdy and hygienic, and can be stored away, out of sight, in a row of cupboards whenever the activities require an open space, free of obstacles. In addition, the nest includes a rather peculiar container for materials and furniture. It s the Magic Box a big, octagonal, wooden box measuring 2.40 x 2.40 x 2.40, fitted with drawers, doors and trays, that can conceal or reveal all sorts of things projectors, a puppet theatre, furniture, small sandpits or laboratories. To facilitate access to the exhibition areas, a motorised bicycle has been adapted for transferring the children in groups of eight, enabling them to establish a link between
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